I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Harumi Ohzora -- VIVA

Gorgeous Sunday out there! After a really dreary first half of the season, I think we finally have our first truly warm and sunny spring day. Viva spring!

And guess what? I'm making a lame segue to this album titled "VIVA" by Harumi Ohzora(大空はるみ). Back on the last day of March, I wrote an article on her 1982 album "Harumi no Moonlight Serenade" and at the end, I kinda wished that I could get my own copy. Well, last night, I wrote about getting a couple of albums from JTM from his Tokyo trip with one of them being Mariya Takeuchi's(竹内まりや)remastered "University Street". The other one happens to be "VIVA" which was Ohzora's 1983 follow-up to "Harumi on Moonlight Serenade". As with the last album, Kazuhiko Kato(加藤和彦)and Nobuyuki Shimizu(清水信之)take care of production and arrangement respectively on this release, too. Outside of the classics, most of the tracks are original productions.

It looks like Ohzora is continuing her journey into the techno-jazz field but with the added spice of Latin. This starts right off with the first track "Papa wa Mambo ga O-suki"(パパはマンボがお好き)which is a cover of Perry Como's legendary "Papa Loves Mambo".

Track 2 is "Umi no Chikaku de Amore"(海の近くアモーレ...Amore by the Sea)composed by Kato and written by Kazumi Yasui(安井かずみ). This is a straight-up Latin jazz stomper without too much of the added technology celebrating a couple painting the town red. I couldn't help but also feel that there was a bit of City Pop in there, too.

The same songwriting duo is behind what might become my favourite track on "VIVA", "Moshi Kashitara New York"(もしかしたらニューヨーク...Perhaps New York). It's good ol' swing time at the Waldorf Astoria when Ohzora and the orchestra get behind those huge NBC microphones. It's from here that I thought that "VIVA" wasn't going to rely as much on the synthesizers as on her previous album.

"Lagoon Hotel"(ラグーン・ホテル)had me wishing that I was sipping on a mai-tai. The slightly smoldering exotica, like dry ice vapors, transports the listener off-world to some tropical planet. I think that part of the effect may be due to that voiceover which struck me as sounding like a very jovial Jabba The Hutt. "Return of the Jedi" did premiere in the same year. That melody was provided by none other than Haruomi Hosono(細野晴臣)with lyrics by Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆), and if you have heard of Hosono's New Music work in the 1970s, you will probably go "naruhodo" as well on hearing "Lagoon Hotel".

My final track is indeed the final track for "VIVA", and it's a cover of "Coffee Rumba"(コーヒー・ルンバ)first recorded by Sachiko Nishida(西田佐知子)with another cover being done later in the early 90s by Yoko Oginome(荻野目洋子). This version by Ohzora is a lot of fun since it's given a B-52s sheen with some of that rock n' roll and New Wave mix. Twist away!

My initial impressions of "VIVA" have been totally changed since I had assumed that the album would be a jazz one as filtered through the Mos Eisley cantina on Tatooine, but as you can hear from above, it's an even more entertaining mix of genres. Many thanks, JTM!

Ahhh...P.S. I was reading the liner notes for the album and found out about the original name for Ohzora. Since I first heard about her, I had assumed that her original name was Taeko Morino(森野多恵子)from her White Kicks days, but actually it's Taeko Taniguchi(谷口妙子)who was born in 1948.

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